Mayors from Across the Country Send Urgent Messages to Their Federal Lawmakers
Washington, D.C. – As cities stand to lose more than $1 trillion in economic output this year, mayors are banding together to urge Congress to provide direct fiscal assistance to all cities and towns across America. Mayors from Texas, Ohio, Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Iowa, North Carolina and Kentucky have sent letters to lawmakers in recent weeks, laying out what is at stake for America’s economic recovery in the next coronavirus aid package.
While cities, in both red states and blue states, are focused on fighting the spread of the disease, they are faced with plummeting revenues, causing painful budget decisions that are leading to furloughs and layoffs that will impact public safety. To date, Congress has provided no direct emergency assistance to most American cities, and the few that have seen aid are unable to use it to shore up city services and payrolls.
These latest lobbying efforts include a letter from U.S. Conference of Mayors President Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and USCM’s top officers to Senate Majority Mitch McConnell over the issue of direct aid to cities. Earlier this year, mayors in Arizona and Pennsylvania also sent letters calling for flexible budget support.
In Texas, over 90 mayors – Republicans and Democrats alike – wrote:
“Texas metropolitan areas account for 93.1 percent of the Texas economy. Vibrant metropolitan areas with strong, fiscally stable local governments will be key to managing the reopening of the Texas economy successfully and safely. Simply put, it will be impossible to have fiscally stable local governments without direct and flexible fiscal assistance form the federal government.”
In Ohio, four major municipal associations sent a letter that read in part:
“However, as this virus continues to threaten the health and wellbeing of our communities, more must be done to mitigate the fallout from this once-in-a-generation crisis. One critical step that Congress can take right now is to provide immediate emergency assistance to state and local governments.”
In Oklahoma, the Mayor’s Council of Oklahoma addressed their state’s senators in a letter, reading, in part:
“The financial impact to our communities will be felt for years to come with a reduction in municipal services. That end result is the deterioration of citizens’ quality of life. Unlike every other form of Government in our state, the quality of everyday life of Oklahomans is the sole responsibility of municipal government. Over ninety percent of Oklahomans live within municipal borders, meaning we manage where people live, worship, raise families, educate and most of all call home.”
In Colorado, the Metro Mayors Caucus wrote to their state’s senators:
“With our balanced budget requirement, our municipalities are facing major cuts to our workforce and the essential services relied upon by millions of Coloradans. In addition to being major employers, our state and local governments also account for 75% of the nation’s infrastructure investment. Absent direct and flexible assistance, this crisis will negatively impact the investments that are key to recovery and rebuilding a sustainable economy for many years.”
In Minnesota, mayors from each of the state’s eight congressional districts sent a letter that read:
“It is urgent that local governments receive funding and funding that allows us to continue serving our residents. We urge you to support a bill that 1) provides direct funding to local governments, 2) allows for local governments to cover lost revenues due to the impact of COVID-19, and 3) ensures adequate time to use the federal appropriations. We understand that the U.S. House has passed a bill and we ask the U.S. Senate to quickly pass a companion bill.”
In Iowa, four major associations representing towns and cities in the state wrote:
“Iowa local governments are projecting substantial revenue loss in critical funding streams such as road use tax funds, property taxes, transit funds, utilities, and local options sales tax. Without adequate funding for these critical infrastructures, the quality of life and economic opportunities for Iowans will be diminished.”
And in North Carolina, bipartisan mayors from across the state signed onto a letter, stating:
“We learned during the Great Recession that if the economic engines in our cities lag in their revenues and investment, they become a drag on the entire state’s recovery, so helping our cities will help ALL North Carolinians. We will persevere against this disaster – but we need significant fiscal relief and economic recovery assistance from Washington to help bring us back from this crisis. We implore you to provide direct and flexible emergency stabilization funding to cities for the coming year to support us in this battle. The federal funds need to be directed to cities in a way that avoids delay or redirection by state and county governments.”